07-13 Day 4 (Olean, NY)

We’ve arrived in any-town USA

Travel FromGettysburg, PA
Intermediate LocationN/A
Ending LocationOlean, NY
Starting Odometer25,050
Ending Odometer25,337
Miles Driven Today287 Miles
Total Trip Mileage794 Miles
New Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on tripUS

The day begins

Well, we got another early start this morning, leaving Gettysburg at about 7:30, planning to ride about 290 miles before arriving in Olean.

Today’s ride seemed to take us over one great road after the next. Most of the roads had fresh pavement, and there was almost no traffic, no construction, and no rain. To a motorcyclist, that’s the Wikipedia definition of a perfect day.

Over the past 4 days, we’ve traveled almost 800, of the 18,000 miles expected. So, progress is good, and in just 3 days, I’ll be enroute to Europe, with my bike having arrived the day before.

Flight 93 Memorial – Shanksville, PA

After riding about 130 miles, we arrived at the memorial. The drive to the Visitor Center is about 3 miles, but at the end, you’ll find yourself in a brand new parking lot, surrounded by brand new buildings, and brand new trees.

The main visitor center includes about 8 isles of exhibits, each of which tells a different part of the story. I’ve taken some pictures of the exhibits, but to be honest, the lighting is pretty bad, and there is a lot of glare on the pictures.

The “Ranger Incident”

I’m not one to shy away from contreversy, or confrontation. And so, this story will likely not be a surprise to any of you, but here goes…

I really wanted to record some video of the Flight 93 memorial from a drone. Given the terrain, I figured that drone footage will be about the best way to show the various locations throughout the exhibit, which were relevant, and how they related to one another. And so, after the visitor center, we drove down to the lower parking lot, which is about 1/4 mile from the crash site.

I fired up the drone, and began flying towards the crash site. I was about 2-3 minutes into the recording when I heard a park ranger yell to me from about 50 yards, telling me to “land the drone immediately”. And so, I landed the drone, and watched him walk up to me.

With a stern, ranger-like posture, he made it abundantly clear that I am not supposed to fly drones in a National Park. I responded by saying that my drone is licensed with the FAA, and that I’ve also been using an app from the FAA that is supposed to be able to inform me as to whether it is safe, and/or allowed to operate a drone at the current location. I had checked the app, and found that there were no warning messages, so I figured if the FAA doesn’t have a problem, why should anyone else. But, that’s not really a well-informed point of view.

The ranger and I spoke for about 10 minutes, and I asked him to let me know exactly how it is that he’s so sure that I can’t fly the drone in the park. He was unable to provide me with any specific information, but he was extremely confident that he was right. But, because I am who I am, and because I’m not likely to back down, I began to press my position.

It did not take long for the situation to escalate, and for both the Ranger, and I to be in a confrontational situation. But, after a few minutes, calmer heads prevaled, and we de-escalated, and went on our ways. But, that’s not the end of the story.

As it turns out, if you do a simple Internet search, you’ll find this story, and numerous others that make it clear that the NPS has operated independently to make it illegal to fly a drone in any of the National Parks.

So, it turns out that the ranger was right, and I went out this evening and had a lovely meal of crow.

Video from the overlook

Although I could not get any video from the drone, I did manage to get some footage from the observation deck, which I have posted below.

The best wingman …

As most of you know, my buddy Ralph is riding along in his BMW X3, as I ride along on the bike, making our way to Toronto. We’re sharing the experience, but he’s also providing a valuable service, which allows me to carry more gear than I need, and to sort out which pieces are actually needed, and which are not, letting him return to South Carolina with the extra gear.

We’re having a ball, and it’s a great way to start an adventure like this. I’m glad we have a chance to share this experience, and to have some fun, as I prepare for the tough days to come.

What does tomorrow bring?

Tomorrow will be all about getting to Toronto, and preparing the bike for it’s flight to the UK. I’ll need to get the bike washed, and remove any dangerous cargo from my luggage. In addition, I’ll need to make sure that there is less than one gallon of gas in the tank, and I’ll need to take the handlebar bag, tank bag, crash bar bags, and my GPS off of the bike, and place them into my checked baggage.

So, tomorrow’s post will not be very eventful, but it’s all part of the process…

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. Morning Cliff. Sounds like you two are enjoying the trip and getting in some great sights. Travel safe my friend.

  2. Good morning! I enjoyed the information about the 9/11 memorial…very interesting. And a nice shout-out to my brovie too!

  3. Imagine that… Cliff getting confrontational with a park ranger. lol! Give’em hell Cliff 🙂

    1. I know, I’ll really need to learn to relax. A response like this one, aimed at a Russian border guard may not be quite the same.

  4. We are really enjoying accompanying you on this trip. It is almost like being there.
    Stay safe.

  5. Happy Trails Cliff. Frances and I will be offering encouragement for every day. Very best wishes!

    It’s good that you met an officer that speaks English and was willing to joust with you! We can only hope that the officers to come will be as willing to have such entertaining and meaningful dialogue. Your reports will be special. Thank you!

    1. Hey Larry,
      Yes, but of course I’ll need to find a friendly Park Ranger or Border Guard when I come to the Russian and Chinese borders.

  6. Hey, Cliff you can thank Judy Langstron for posting the link in the LCDP newsletter. We’ll all be enjoying your adventure. Cary & I wish you the very best and most perfect days.

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